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Warner Bros. Discovery hikes prices for Max streaming service

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In this photo illustration, the Warner Bros. Discovery logo is displayed on a smartphone screen.
Rafael Henrique | Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Warner Bros. Discovery‘s Max announced price increases for its ad-free options on Tuesday, as a range of streamers make their memberships more expensive. 

The move comes only 12 days before the debut of season two of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” prequel “House of the Dragon,” whose series premiere garnered nearly 10 million viewers, making it the biggest in HBO’s history.  

Max currently has three pricing options: with ads; ad-free; and ultimate ad-free, which allows for more devices and downloads than the cheaper plans.

The price of the ad-free option of the streaming service will increase by $1 per month to $16.99, while the yearly ad-free plan will rise by $20 a year to $169.99. The cost of the ultimate ad-free plan will also increase by $1 per month to $20.99, while the yearly ultimate plan will jump $10 per year to $209.99. The ad-supported option will remain unchanged at $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year.

While the prices will take effect immediately for new subscribers, existing subscribers will see the price hike starting from their next billing cycle on or after July 4.

The price hike follows Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney’s decision to bundle their streaming services, Disney+, Max and Hulu. The bundle will be available in both ad-supported and ad-free tiers. While the pricing has not been disclosed, CNBC reported that it will be offered at a discount in an effort to make it a more desirable option.

Warner Bros. Discovery last month missed both top- and bottom-line estimates for its first-quarter earnings report, despite adding two million direct-to-consumer streaming subscribers during the quarter. 

In the company’s earnings call, CEO David Zaslav said Warner Bros. Discovery is hoping the subscribers will stick with the bundle offering to take advantage of cheaper prices, decreasing the loss of customers, which he said has been “the killer” in the streaming business.

This is only the second time Max has raised prices for its ad-free service since its launch. In early 2023, Max raised the ad-free tier price from $14.99 to $15.99 a month, an increase the company said would allow it to invest in its content and user experience. 

Prices are rising across the streaming world. Last month, Comcast’s NBCUniversal hiked both the ad-supported and ad-free offerings of its Peacock platform by $2 per month ahead of its Olympics coverage later this summer. Last summer, Netflix got rid of its cheapest basic ad-free option in the U.S. and U.K. markets, offering a cheaper yet ad-supported option and more expensive ad-free options instead.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

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